South Shore bus route in the works
One shuttle operator is preparing to takeover a bus route between Yarmouth and Halifax that other carriers don't want, as part of a deal worked out with a new regional bus operator appearing before the Utility and Review Board this week.
Acadian Lines, the only inter-city coach line in the Maritimes, is shutting down its service at the end of November.
Maritime Bus, previously known as Trius, will replace it. Run out of Charlottetown, it has 42 coaches and $11 million in annual revenue.
Maritime Bus will pick up 80 per cent of Acadian's customers. Trius Tours currently operates the route between Halifax and Yarmouth, but is looking to discontinue that service.
Bernard Melanson, operator of Bernie’s Shuttle Service, said he would apply for a 21-passenger bus to serve the South Shore.
Mike Cassidy, co-owner of Maritime Bus, said he's working with other operators to avoid leaving communities in the lurch.
"We are going to be working with this shuttle operator, Bernie's Shuttle, Mr. Melanson, to make sure that he has a vehicle, that we can assist him with our ridership numbers, we can hopefully cross merchandise and cross promote."
Cassidy said he hopes Bernie's Shuttle will also pick up the route between Digby and Kentville.
His plan to increase ridership include special promotions with casinos and universities, 15 per cent discounts for seniors and students as well as 50 per cent off sales during the year.
That deep discount has upset some shuttle van services.
Shelley Young runs a daily 10 seat passenger van from Halifax called the P.E.I. Express.
"Mr. Cassidy is applying for the right to discount at will whenever he wants. And I don't have that as a competing carrier so I'm objecting on that bases. And I'm objecting on the bases that a 50 per cent discount could easily run my business out of business," she said.
Cassidy said he needs the flexibility to slash or adjust prices to cover changing fuel costs.
If the Utility and Review Board approves the application, Maritime Bus plans to launch its regional service in early December.